Monday, June 30, 2008

Omaha Summer Arts Festival

I dropped off my beer for the Omaha Summer Arts Festival Friday afternoon and went back home. When Paris and Chris and I arrived for our shift on Saturday morning, we found that half of the big tent was gone, having been torn up by Friday night's storm. The guys from Empyrean were re-setting-up the beer coolers, which had blown over the night before. They said they started pouring beer at 4:00 Friday afternoon, and by 5:30 the police came around and told everybody to get inside.

Jim Engelbart provided these pictures and commentary:

This storm formed around Norfolk at roughly 4pm; it was over downtown Omaha by 5:30! Storm experts say it was moving 90-100 mph! (Pictures from Omaha World-Herald.) These clouds were moving fast over northwest Omaha.

Storm moving over downtown, shot from World-Herald parking garage looking northwest

Summer Arts Fest World Music Pavillion after storm: 80x120-foot tent and various 10x10-foot food & artist tents smashed.

Big tent picked up and smashed against building on west side of 13th & Farnam - broke 2nd floor window and blocked entrance. The beer station is somewhere under the left-hand corner of this tent.

You can’t keep good brewers down - picking up the festival colors - shades of Iwo Jima. From left; Brendan McGinn (Empyrean), Dave Oenbring (Modern Monks), Jim Engelbart (Empyrean), Zac Triemert (Upstream), Dean Dobmeyer (Nebraska Brewing) and Steve Olsen (Lincoln Lagers).

Aftermath looking north

Saturday was still breezy, but nothing like Friday night, and Sunday was a very nice day.

The emergency backup Nebraska Craft Brewers Association beer tent at the 2008 Omaha Summer Arts Festival

When it was over, I had gone through just about all of the Stüvenbräu Maibock I had brought (31 gallons), and virtually none of the Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen. I attribute this to the fact that the Hefeweizen was old, sour, nasty, and just generally totally fucking awful. Now that I have yeast, I'll dump what's left at the pub and brew a new batch on Monday.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Time to appear busy again

I have yeast now, and I went out to Duncan to pick up a pallet of sugar today, and some of the tanks are running kinda low, so I guess I need to get back at it. But tomorrow, I have to fill kegs, then pick up Paris in Omaha upon her return from Mölndal, and I'll be delivering kegs on Friday. So...

  • Monday: Clean the draft lines. Brew Hefeweizen.

  • Tuesday: Brew Tripel. Do the monthly tax reports.

  • Wednesday: Make 28 barrels of root beer.

  • Thursday: Clean and fill kegs. Clean bright beer tanks.

  • Friday: Filter Gold, if the building isn't closed.

That's the plan, anyway.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

More fun with friends

Nebraska Brewing Company brewer Tyson Arp, his lovely wife Angela, her brother Todd, and his lovely wife Liz joined my lovely wife Paris and I tonight at the pub. It was the first time they had visited Gottberg since I started working there. We all had a couple of beers along with dinner, and I gave them the two-dollar tour.

We then retired to our house and raided the cellar:

  • North Coast Old Stock Ale 2007

  • North Coast Old Stock Ale 2004

  • Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2008

  • Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2004

  • Unibroue Don de Dieu

  • Unibroud Maudite

  • Unibroue 16

  • Unibroue Terrible

  • Verhaeghe Duchesse de Bourgogne

  • Great Divide Yeti

  • Achel Trappist

  • Schneider Aventinus Eisbock

  • and two homebrewed spiced ales courtesy of Todd Wyatt

(There should be a picture here, but the camera was even less focused than I was.)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Brewing Vienna Lager with Nick and Todd and Stephanie

Nick Spies, Todd Wyatt, and Stephanie Ahlschwede, fixtures at the Huber Haus, are here at Gottberg today. We're brewing a Vienna Lager that we'll serve up at the Sunfest in a few weeks.

The gang's all here

Here's what they had to say about their brew day:

Todd: I'm very excited to be experiencing my first taste of commercial brewing after 18 years of homebrewing! Yippee!

Richard and Todd do some record-keeping

Stephanie: So far I am most impressed by two things - 1) the grapenut-like scent of the grain we are using, and 2) the subtle and effective slope of the brewing room floor, which means you can rinse anything off at any time and the water immediately drains away. Perhaps this feature should be included in every home kitchen remodel?

Nick: I've been here for almost an hour and I'm good and sweaty already. While we were waiting for Todd and Steph to arrive: I put the false bottom in the mash tun, moved some 100-lb bags of sugar (for the their root beer), got all the grain together, dumped the grain in the hopper, stirred the mash, and now I'm typing about all the aforementioned. Almost done recirculating, then we will be pumping it into the kettle.

Smilin' Steph and Nick

Stephanie: thrill of the day so far - getting to pour the hops into wort!

Just like she said

Tom: Arrived just in time to avoid all of the work, but had the pleasure of company and beer, Good brew day!

Paris: Arrived for lunch, still working at home -- but got to have fun with the gang for a little while.

Todd: We'll the brewing day is done. Unfortunately, I was injured by a flying waterhose during the clean up phase. The upside is that the beer has a new name: "There Will Be Blood" Red bier. Good times had by all.

Todd retrieves the scrub pad that he dropped into the kettle

Nick: Well, we are done now and at Rich's place sampling the cellar selection. I brought along a bottle of Alaskan Smoked Porter from my recent trip to Alaska to share (reminds me of sitting by the campfire after catching my King salmon). Enjoying a Bigfoot 2002 as I write this.

Richard: From the cellar: New Holland Dragon's Milk, Verhaeghe Duchesse de Bourgogne, Sprecher Mamma Mia Pizza Beer (thanks, John!), Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2002, JW Lees Harvest Ale 2006, JW Lees Harvest Ale Port 2006, and De Landtsheer Malheur Brut Reserve. A small price to pay for all the help I got today.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Gottberg's been podcasted!

The crew invited me to Lincoln to record a new episode of their podcast, and so I did on a stormy Wednesday night. Safely ensconced in a bomb shelter under the house, we could barely hear the tornado sirens as we talked about all things beer and enjoyed six growlers of Stüvenbräu Maibock.

I'm not known as a particularly talkative person, but after we wrapped up at midnight they said that at two hours nine minutes, it was their longest show yet. Must have been the beer.

Listen to Episode 92 - Gotta Have Gottberg at!

Oregon to allow beer and wine deliveries to homes

Oregon continues to justify its reputation as the capital of American beer.

SALEM, Ore. -- The Oregon Liquor Control Commission will let grocers make same-day home deliveries of unlimited amounts of beer and wine.

The orders must be placed by 9 a.m. and delivered by 9 p.m.

Read the good news at KREM.

Some real work for a change

I'm brewing today, for the first time since April 17. I'm so out of practice, I even screwed up and set the mash, so it's taking me about an hour longer than average to brew these seven barrels of All-American Gold. But it does smell good in here for a change.

Next week, after my other yeasts arrive, I'll brew a batch of Hefeweizen (probably Wednesday) and a Vienna Lager (Friday). The latter will actually be done by a gang of Huber Haus regulars, and we'll tap it at the Summer Beer Fest in Omaha on July 12. A Tripel and a Porter are also in the works, destined for the Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison WI in August.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Beer cans save life of crash lad

And they say that beer makes you dehydrated.

A car crash victim’s life was saved because he’d been out drinking lager, it emerged last night.

Kyle Whyte was close to death after he was crushed against a nursery school wall.

But the fluid from the four cans he had just downed stopped him dying of shock. It helped compensate for the massive loss of blood.

Read the whole story at The Sun.

Eighth grader finds 100 year old beer

It's a fantastic historical artifact, but I'm not sure I'd open the bottle.

Collin [Lindsey], an eighth-grader at Legacy Middle School, spent a day washing and handling artifacts at the University of Texas at San Antonio's Center for Archaeological Research and became so taken with an old, corked bottle found at the River Walk extension project that he went home, did some research and came back with a theory: The yellow liquid sloshing inside was likely century-old beer, brewed by a predecessor to the Lone Star Brewing Co.

Because archaeologists can't be sure it's beer, hazardous materials experts must open the bottle, [UTSA archaeologist Jon] Dowling said. Once opened, they can send a sample to Lone Star or another brewery to be tested in a lab.

Read the whole story at KVUE.

Japan plans to brew 'space beer'

More Beeeeeeeeeer Frommmmmmmmmmm Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!

TOKYO (AFP) - A Japanese brewery Tuesday said it was planning the first "space beer," using offspring of barley once stored at the International Space Station.

Researchers said the project was part of efforts to prepare for a future in which humans spend extended periods of time in space -- and might like a cold beer after a space walk.

Japanese brewery Sapporo Holdings said it would make beer using the third generation of barley grains that had spent five months on the International Space Station in 2006.

Read the whole story at

11 great beer festivals of the West

I've only been to two of these. I need to get out more.

To get a taste of the best beer festivals of the West for the summer and fall 2008 season, we've picked the brains of Maryanne Nasiatka and Paul Ruschmann. The husband-and-wife team, who authored the "Michigan Breweries" guidebook to their home state's hop houses, are also the proprietors of Tasked with the job of gathering information and visiting beer festivals from around the world, they've cultivated the following list of the 11 best celebrations -- because 10 just isn't enough -- of the frothy alcohol.

You can find their list at the Los Angeles Times.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Still fuming

Cleaned kegs today. Ordered more yeast. Can't brew until Friday at the earliest.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Boredom, wasted time, disaster

It's been really quiet here at the brewery. I've spent most of my time working on my brewery record-keeping software, converting it from Windows and Microsoft Access to Linux and MySQL.

I delivered five half-barrels of root beer to Council Bluffs on Thursday.

The PT Cruiser is bigger on the inside

Paris flew home from Boston on Friday, but I couldn't be there to collect her, because Dusters catered the 2008 Cattlemens Ball in Albion. It's a huge annual event, drawing some 700 people for Friday's party, and 4,000 for Saturday's festivities. They bought two half-barrels of beer from us for resale at three bucks a glass, and I brought three more quarter-barrels for free sampling, along with a half-barrel of root beer. We started at 6:00pm, and ended at 9:00.

The grounds of the Cattlemen's Ball

Something you don't see every day: a stretch Cadillac Escalade

A cowgirl entertains the Coors guys

Lots of people eating, no people drinking

At the end of the night, after three hours of standing behind the table, we had sold nine beers and three cups of root beer. We had poured maybe three gallons of free samples, including those we drank ourselves.

One ticket per beer sold

Dusters' food tables were very busy the whole night, but for me, it was a colossal waste of time.

Paris had checked into a hotel in Omaha, so I drove there to join her, and we came home Saturday. (She flew out again on Sunday.)

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Last week, I had ordered yeast for my upcoming beers. (Recall that my Hefeweizen yeast had been mistakenly sent to a root beer customer a few weeks ago.) Seven liters of Hefeweizen yeast, seven liters of ale yeast, and one liter of Strong Belgian Ale yeast. Nearly eight hundred dollars worth of yeast in all. It was scheduled to arrive on Friday, and apparently it did, while I was not at the brewery.

I discovered the box of yeast, clearly marked "REFRIGERATE UPON ARRIVAL", in the stairwell at the brewery, where it had been festering at 80°F all weekend. The sides of the box were bulging. It doesn't look like the individual containers ruptured, but I didn't open the box to find out. I put it downstairs in the cooler. I guess I'll open one up tomorrow to see if it smells like it will make beer, but more than likely, it's $800 worth of yeast shot to hell.

Fuck it. I've got kegs to clean.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Nine cool jobs that pay well

Once again, "brewmaster" tops the list of cool jobs. I have to take issue with their salary estimate, though; they're about 40% too high according to surveys I've seen from trade organizations.

1. Brewmaster To put it mildly, a lot of people like to drink beer. It's associated with goods times, 21st birthdays and football games. (In fairness, it's also associated with hangovers the next day.)

Who wouldn't want to be the creator of a tasty ale that will be imbibed by many the partygoer? Plus, you get to do taste-testing along the way, which is always fun.

Salary: $42,430

Read the rest of the list at CNN.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Thunderhead weathers the storm

Thunderhead Brewing came through last Thursday's tornadoes in good shape. Trevor Schaben summed up his brewery's status:

Some stuff on my roof blew around and the A/C isn't working, but I can't complain.

No word yet from Adam Daake at Platte Valley Brewing.